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Angel Medina
Dr. Benington
April 11, 2016
Life History Interview
Growing up in the US, I have taken many things for advantage unintentionally. ThyshiyaMonique is my sons mother. Thyshiya has experienced multiple style of living from being poor
to being rich. Born in Belgium, Thyshiya quickly moved to the Replubic of Congo where she
resided with her mother and her grandparents. Her grandfather was a successful man among the
local community. His earning were produced by his ownership of a yacht company, vacuum
shops, and an amazing discovery of a diamond worth close to 34 million dollars. The lifestyle
was great but Thyshiyas mother was obligated to do something with her life, as the Tshilombo
family was a proud of prestigious family among the African community. Cathy Tshilombo,
Thyshiyas mother, left for America in pursuit of a career in her, now known, catering business.
Thyshiya joined her mother here in the states when she was 8 years of age. Life became very
different.
Being Congolese is a proud label that I define myself with, Thyshiya replied after
being asked of what she her thoughts and feelings are of being a part of her respective culture.
The Congolese culture is a caring culture that attempts to stand by one another through difficult
challenges throughout life. Loyalty is an aspect that can almost always be counted on when a
connection is built within the culture. There is some cause to pause when meshing American
culture with the Congolese culture because of the glaring differences between the two.
Americans have a culture in which we feel privileged or entitled to certain statuses that
we may not have necessarily earned yet. Families tend to be a little more relaxed when it comes

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to punishment or expectations for the behavior of the children. Many, if not most, Congolese
families immediately set an expectation on the children that enter the household to be a
professional of some sort, nurse, doctor, business owner. The relationship between parents and
offspring are less personal and much more structural.
Interacting with Americans on a day to day basis certainly has its aspects that vary person
to person. Some interactions are pleasant, whereas other encounters are prejudice and
unnecessary. Growing up predominantly in Dallas, Texas, there are plenty of opportunity to
encounter somebody who is not particularly fond of the minority race. In most instances, the
scenario will not end with any physical harm but certainly psychological. Being mistreated,
based on the color of your skin, at a young age is something that is not comprehended until later
in life when you realize just how cruel some people can potentially be.
Although prejudice occasions do arise, the love for your culture is rarely harmed because
they are the community that is actually supportive of you and allows you to progress through the
difficult challenges of being different. Although, your individual culture is bound to change
when living in another country, specifically the United States of America. Values change.
Priorities adjust according to those that live around you and who you encounter each day. Habits
such as calling your elders sir and mam vanish. Talking to each person as if they are superior or
inferior to you decimates. The US culture encourages people to treat each other as equals and
sometimes American child take that over the line and disrespect their elders because their parents
have tried to become more of their friend than their parent.
Other cultural differences include the availability to your home for childrens friends and
childhood activities. The culture is very adult oriented. The process of marriage includes the
presentation of a dowry. Most of all, family is stressed to the youth as well as the growing.

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Coordinated family events occur often and typically are events with a large number of member
attending. The verbiage used amongst family members is different than that of the American
families as well. Use of the words aunt, uncle, nephew, and even grandma/grandpa are used in
different context. Rather than providing a child with hundreds of cousins, the culture encourages
cousins to be recognized as aunts and uncles or nephews and nieces because they want to set a
precedent of obeying, respecting, and looking up to those members within the family in a
prestigious fashion.
Thyshiya has been blessed with the ability to speak four different languages, English,
French, Lingala, and Chaluba. French is the predominant language within the Tshilombo
household and the same holds true for many of their friends and family. French is a very
common spoken language among the Congolese community. The role that each person within
the households, plays varies upon the age and gender of the family member. Woman are looked
upon to provide food and nurture for the family, both husband as well as children. The wife will
typically perform various tasks without questioning the man of the house. The husband on the
other hand is looked to for support and dominance. Leadership is a quality that all fathers must
possess but that statement holds especially true amongst the Congolese culture. The man is
responsible for the income of the household and is felt to be obligated to taking any negative
attention away from the family.
Children in many Congolese homes are very well disciplined. This statement does not
hold true for Thyshiyas youngest brother because he is spoiled but as for Thyshiya and the
siblings that came before her, there is no chance of having leniency when a situation goes awry.
The children are scolded if they talk back to their elders and in most instances given a whoopin.

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The youth also has an obligation to speak formally to each adult they encounter, responding with
either yes sir or yes mam.
The Tshilombo family has always been set in the cooking department because Thyshiyas
mother is the owner of her own catering business Mama Africa. Cathy, Thyshiyas mother, has
found success in catering large events with her delightful cooking and even have some product in
stores across the nation. Cathy cooks 3 full course meals a day, one for each meal. Fufu is
certainly the popular favorite amongst African communities as the food that comes into the
American culture and is extremely different.
Americans have certainly allowed themselves to get creative in the fashion department
where they are allowed to wear virtually anything. The Congolese culture has a formal dress that
they wear. These formal dresses are beautiful and vibrant in color, multiple shapes throughout
the dresses are printed to form a more appealing picture for viewers. This same design and
structure is produced for the male clothing as well. Each gender has the same elegant look with
the design of their clothing.
Dancing is a popular function held within the norms of any party in the Congolese
culture. Beating of drums is the most common form of music for the Congolese. The traditional
dance of the Congolese is very sexual is orientation and seductive. All the movement of their
dance is generated from the hips and butt. Gyrations of the butt and hips will vary from side to
side, to up and down, side to side, and circular motions. The dance is not graphic or suggestive
by any means but is certainly not the same as a Latin dance that involves movement outward
from and to the shoulders. Dress for these traditional dances are usually along the lines of the
traditional dresses, however, may have less material within the dress in order to provide a more
free flowing movement from the dancers.

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Movement from dancers is very important because African music is fast and frequent in
rhythm. The Congolese culture is also very fast and vibrant. The personalities of most Congolese
is outgoing and willing to interact with others. The problem with being so outgoing and free with
the connections that one may build, is that the United States of America is not always tolerant of
people who do not act the same way as them. Living in Utah, Thyshiya has experienced
hundreds counts of prejudice and stereotyping. Growing up, frequent questions would be asked
of whether she used to ride exotic foreign animals, such as elephants and hippos to school.
Questions of whether she lived in an actual home. Questions of whether she was able to eat or
have enough money to get by. Questions of whether she was intelligent in any regard because the
school system in Africa is believed to be inferior to our own.
Utah has provided many cases of unwanted prejudice but it seems to be a normal
encounter even when getting into other states. Kids find it funny to mock the African culture by
assuming that all Africans speak in clicks of the tongue. Racial jokes are shared virtually
everywhere and most recently the outburst of #Blacklivesmatter has raised an epidemic in
which the black community is looked upon as racist or non-tolerant of the white community due
to the unjust crimes being committed against the minority groups in the United States.
Thyshiya-Monique has been through many obstacles and will continue to go through
struggles of holding Congolese values in an American society. The challenges can be
overwhelming at times but when it is built into you, its hard to forget. Being Congolese may not
come with the desired level of tolerance for abnormal situations but it makes up for the close
mindedness by providing a great sense of dedication and loyalty to those who are loved and apart
of the in-group. Every culture has the quality of friendliness, escape your bubble and get to know
a different culture.